Hops, Props and Side Bets

From time to time I refer to Hop bets as “the crack cocaine of craps,” a phrase I borrowed from long-time Axis Power Craps forum member and friend, Golfer. Hop bets, however, remain a mystery to many newer players and a few older ones. With that said, you may be making a type of Hop bet already, and you just don’t know it.

Ever toss out a couple of bucks on the “C&E” bet? The “C” portion of that bet is an “Any Craps” wager that pays on the 2, 3, or 12. But the “E” portion pays on the eleven – a number that can roll two ways – either 6-5 or 5-6. Because it can roll two ways it pays 15 – 1. A number that can only roll one way – say the hard four – pays 30 – 1. Of course, while the “YO” is technically a hop bet – if you toss in a buck and tell the dealer to “hop the eleven” he’ll probably look at you about the same way he would if you tossed in a dollar and asked for a Hard Twelve. Then he’ll set up an “E” bet or an eleven bet in the prop box.

As with the C&E, hop bets are one-roll bets. A decision on them is reached on every toss of the dice. They either win or lose. They don’t hang around for the next roll. If you are a committed prop bettor, and there are folks out there who are, then the cost per hour to make your favorite wager can be incredibly high. “Hard” hop bets have just a 2.78% chance of winning. “Easy” hop bets have only a 5.56% chance of winning. That translates to about an 11.1% house edge on the easy numbers and 16.7% on the hard ones. That’s a heck of an edge to try to overcome – even for a DI.

With all of the different layouts available to casinos today, it is sometimes an adventure finding the location of the wager you want to make. With most hop bets, though, that’s not a problem Hop bets are the responsibility of the boxman. He sets them up directly in front of him. Sometimes the layout will have hop-bet boxes for the individual combinations of the dice – for example, 5-1, 4-2, 3-3. In those situations your chips will be placed in the appropriate boxes. But some layouts don’t display hop bets, to the boxman simply sets the bets up in front of him, then gives hand signals to the eye-in-the-sky advising security what numbers have been bet.

One number a lot of Don’t players like to Hop is the seven. They’ll use a sevens-hop wager as a hedge during the Come Out, and sometimes toss in an additional sevens-hop bet during the hand just to see if they can “jinx” him by calling the devil’s name. But not all casinos offer a sevens hop bet. Instead, they’ll set your bet up as an Any Seven. Essentially, this just makes a bad bet even worse. While the sevens are “easy” numbers, the Any Seven bet carries about a 16.7% house edge.

Now let’s talk about some of the other prop bets on the layout. We’ll start with one of my old favorites, the Horn bet. The Horn bet is a one roll bet on the 2, 3, 11, and 12. A $4 horn bet is $1 on each number, so when 3 or 11 hits you get paid $12 or 3 to 1 on your bet. This is because you lose $1 on the 2, 11 and 12 and your bet stays up on the horn. If a 2 or 12 rolls, you win $30 minus the three $1 losing bets and receive $27. Want to make your Horn bet even worse? Add a $1 Any Sevens to the mix and you now have a World or Whirl bet. If the seven tosses a seven then the payoff is used to keep the Horn bet up for one more roll – the bet becomes a “push.” It sounds like a great idea, but the cost-per-session to make these bets makes them prohibitive for all but the most skilled DI’s.

Here’s another bad bet for you. The “Buffalo.” A Buffalo bet consists of all the hardways plus an Any Sevens bet. Then you have a “Hopping Buffalo,” which gives you all the hardways hopping plus and Any Sevens. Or if you are really addicted to hop bets, try the Buffalo Yo. Or maybe you want a Buffalo Crap. Yeah, make that one and it will get you some looks.

Other prop bets include the Hardways, which most of you are familiar with. Hardway bets stay up until the number wagered rolls easy – or the shooter sevens out. Note that in some casinos “Hardways work on the Come Out unless you call them off.” Most shooters prefer to have their Hardway bets off on the Come Out, since the table is typically rooting for a seven on the first roll of the dice. There are dozens of Hardway “strategies” out there, but due to the high house edge on these bets they should only be considered for their entertainment value.

In recent years a number of side bets have been introduced into craps. This was done to add more excitement to the game while adding to the casino’s bottom line. Among the popular variants out there are the Fire Bet and the All, Tall, Small layout. In order to win the Fire bet the shooter has to establish and make a prescribed number of numbers as their point. Depending on which version of the Fire Bet layout that’s in play – the shooter has to make a minimum of three or four numbers in order to score a Fire payout. Depending on the payout table – on average the house edge is around 21%. That’s a steep price to pay for a little “cheap” entertainment.

The All, Tall, Small layout offers players a side bet that pays off if the shooter tosses all twelve numbers on the dice, all of the small numbers (2 – 6) or all of the tall numbers (8 – 12) before throwing a seven. The house edge on the All, Small and Tall bets is just shy of 8%. Not good, but a heck of a lot better than that Any Sevens wager we talked about before.

There are other layouts with other side and prop bets displayed, but this should cover ninety percent of the games you’ll encounter. So how should you approach playing the props? Well, it’s sort of like betting on a random roller – the best bet is always going to be “no bet.” However, if (like me) you play craps for “fun” as well as to win, it is possible to add an occasional prop bet into your mix without completely killing your bankroll.

Start off by setting a specific portion of your bankroll aside for prop betting. Let’s say you are willing to risk $20 in prop action in your next session. When you buy in, ask for a stack of dollar chips for prop play. Then set them up in the back rack – behind your regular betting bankroll. Whenever you make a prop bet – play with money from the back rack. Likewise, whenever a prop bet wins – add those chips to the back rack. As long as the back rack isn’t depleted – continue to enjoy your prop play. But once those twenty chips are gone – you are through betting the props for that session.

Next, establish some rules about which prop and side bets you are going to make – and when you’re going to make them. For example, if you are going to bet the Fire or All, Tall, or Small consider doing so only on skilled DI’s you are acquainted with. And who says you have to bet $10 on the Fire Bet just because the casino offers it? Bet a buck for a chance at $1000 and count your blessings if it hits. Want to bet the Hardways? Wait until you see a DI toss a hardway before you bet one. Like playing a Come Out game, tossing the Straight Sixes on the Come Out and shooting for the Horn? Only bet the Horn when you are shooting – and only on the Come Out. Last of all – don’t chase bad gets with good money. Confusing? Just remember the best prop bet is no bet – but if you stick with your Mom’s advice – “all things in moderation” – you’ll do fine.